Graduation Year

2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

English

Major Professor

Pat Rogers, Ph.D.

Keywords

Eighteenth-Century, Film, Adaptation, Swift, Lilliput

Abstract

Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, has captured readers' imaginations for almost three hundred years, spawning countless adaptations over several different mediums. As different means of communicating and transforming art have been invented, these adaptations have grown to fill the new mediums and make use of the various possibilities each form has created. Film in particular has created an enormous opportunity to re-imagine Gulliver's Travels, since it can directly show the audience the fictional foreign locations in which Gulliver finds himself. In this study, I examine seven screen adaptations of Swift's novel to determine what our current culture views as the core of the work, or what we see as the important pieces to pass on to current and future audiences.

The seven chosen adaptations were selected based on how well they have survived over the last century; adaptations which are no longer available for commercial purchase and/or viewing were excluded from the study. I have also only included works which maintain a resemblance to the original story in structure, even if merely loosely, and have excluded works which bear only a thematic tie; I based my choices on the works which make an overt claim to be interpretations of the original text. This study examines only the works which seek to directly represent the original novel. By looking at Swift's work through the lens of adaptation, this study will show how Swift's work is currently perceived, and examines what that may mean for the future of Swift's legacy. As cultural views and connotations of language have changed, the directors of the adaptations have used different means to achieve sometimes similar, sometimes different messages.

Gulliver's Travels was originally a satiric work that addressed social problems of eighteenth-century England. Popular views on society have changed, however, as have the politicians holding office. Certain events in Gulliver's Travels, such as the reading of Gulliver's offences in Lilliput, no longer have nearly the same relevance. Therefore, it is important to examine how the directors address these changes to determine what will retain relevance over time.

Share

COinS